Brihadeshwarar Temple Tanjavur

Chola ‘Big’ Temple, Tanjavur

Brihadeeswarar Temple (also called Tanjavur Chola Big Temple – it is really big) in downtown Tanjavur. It is a magnificent old temple with a very big Nandi (the sacred bull) and many Nandis on the rampart walls.


This was day 5 of our South India Road Trip from Chennai to Kochi and back, via Pondy Kumbakonam Tanjavur Karaikudi Madurai Periyar Gavi Vagaman Vembanad Wayanad Coorg Mysore and Yelagiri.



Kumbakonam to Tanjavur

South India Road Trip Day 5 – Chola Temple

We had breakfast and were away, reached Papanasam 15 Km from Kumbakonam on the route to Tanjavur. It has 108 Lingams Temple which is a wonder. Then onward to Brihadeeswarar Chola Temple (also called Big Temple – it is really big) in downtown Tanjavur just next to the bus station (old). It is the biggest of the 3 Chola Temples. We reached at Noon so had enough time to go to the inner sanctum which is open 6:00 – 12:30 and then 4:30 – 8:30 PM. It is a magnificent old temple with a very big Nandi (the sacred bull) and many Nandis on the rampart walls. We took many photos and then proceeded to find our hotel. An hour later we almost gave up the search as all autos and hotels in the vicinity of the bus stand, the location of the hotel on google maps, had never heard of Fast Track hotel or 14 Cachery Street, the address given on the hotels website. Finally a travel agent at one of the bigger hotels directed us to Pandyar Hotel as she had heard that the owner has a travel agency called Fast Track. The location, phone number and address on were all incorrect. We found Pandyar Hotel and they honored the booking even though they had no intimation of it. They took our confirmation number and the voucher and had me email these to them. The data plan on my phone was very useful.


We got lunch thalis at Pandyar and slept till 5 PM, then took the short drive (quicker to walk across the road!) to the ‘Big Temple’ and spent another couple of hours in the evening and dusk light, wonderful. After dark we drove across to the market and had a dosa at Vasanta Bhavan and a ‘degree’ coffee for Rs.10/- at a degree coffee place, he also uses Padma Coffee from Trichy. Then late evening we saw a fair nearby with a giant wheel, walked back to the car, returned to the hotel and crashed.



Pondy to Kumbakonam

Road Trip Chennai Pondy Madurai Vembanad Kochi Wayanad Coorg 

Road Trip Chennai Pondy Madurai Vembanad Kochi Wayanad Coorg via Kumbakonam Tanjavur Karaikudi Periyar Gavi Vagaman Mysore Yelagiri

We were supposed to stop at Brihadeeswarar Temple Gangaikondacholapuram but we decided to head straight to Kumbakonam and see the Chola Temple and other temples there, Kumbakonam being a temple town with literally scores of temples. Thus we drove right thru and reached at about 1:30 PM, tried a few hotels and then settled for Vinayaga opposite the railway station. They served good homely lunch thali, everything in the thali was tasty. At 4 PM we headed to the temples, which have an afternoon break from 12:00 till 4:30 PM. First stop was the town center main temple with its customary elephant. It is a great temple with many stone pillars to hold up the carved stone top, Adi Kumbeswarar Koil (Temple). Then we proceeded to the Chola Temple, Airavatesvarar Koil at Darasuram. This was quite another thing. The magnitude of the temple is stunning with hundreds of carved stone pillars and statues. Later when we checked on google we discovered that this is the smallest of the 3 Chola temples! Still majestic and magnificent.


Once back at the hotel we left the car and walked into town in search of coffee roasters. We got to ‘Shakti Coffee’ roaster but were told that ‘Padma Coffee’ supplies to many coffee shops, both are excellent.  We had snacks at ‘Aryas’, highly recommend this place for the tastes and flavors of this town. I had Adai and wife tried the Kuzhipaniyaram (3 salty and 2 sweet balls) and Idlis. Then the coffee. On the way to Aryas we had stopped at a shop selling excellent coffee at Rs.10/- a shot, and so on our way back I had two more coffees.


Later it started to rain so we negotiated with an auto to take us to Padma Coffee en-route to the Vinayaga Hotel (Rs.80/-). So we got the best Padma Coffee at Rs.38.50 / 100 grams and got two packets of 100 grams of roasted and ground coffee. Leo coffee in Chennai was Rs.50/- for 100 grams, and Shakti’s top coffee was Rs.40/-, the most popular is also the cheapest!


Later in the night I booked a hotel on, my favorite hotel booking site, Fast Track Tanjavur.

Adai at Aryas
Darasuram Iyrava Dheeshvarar Koil
Adi Kumbeswarar Koil
Darasuram Iyrava Dheeshvarar Koil
Adi Kumbeswarar Koil
Adi Kumbeswarar Koil